Making the future in Stratford
Making the future is what the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus is all about.
Opening this fall, the Waterloo Stratford Campus is home to uWaterloo’s new programs in digital media: Global Business and Digital Arts and the Master in Digital Experience Innovation. These unique programs focus on future careers in digital technologies, content creation, and user experience. Students will explore technology, creativity and business to develop, examine and commercialize opportunities in the rapidly growing global digital media field.
The new Stratford Campus building will welcome its first Global Business and Digital Arts and the second Master of Digital Experience Innovation classes. The building is a 42,000 square-foot facility featuring digital media labs, digital editing suites, project rooms and bright, open collaboration spaces.
The highlight of the building will be a three-story Christie Digital MicroTile wall that will display curated and student content. The Stratford Campus MicroTile wall is expected to be the tallest media wall of its kind in Canada. The display will be seen from all three floors inside the building, as well as from the street through the front glass façade.
The Stratford Campus began as an idea just over six years ago when Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson approached then uWaterloo President David Johnston about establishing a University of Waterloo campus in Stratford. At the time — the precipice of the economic downturn — Stratford was in the process of reinventing itself from a manufacturing and agricultural centre to a more sector-rich city. President Johnston turned to then Dean of Arts Ken Coates to lead the development of the newest satellite campus.
Professor Coates saw an opportunity to marry the core strength of the University of Waterloo — technology — with the heart of Stratford — creativity — to create a unique set of programs that would prepare students for careers in the knowledge economy. To be successful in the future, Coates knew that students needed to have a solid foundation in both technology and creativity, but felt that adding a business element would further solidify their marketability a competitive future job market.
In consultation with numerous industry partners, uWaterloo alumni working in the digital media, and a team of professors in Arts, the Stratford Campus programs were created to be unique, interdisciplinary and project-based with a strong humanities foundation.
The one-year, professional Master of Digital Experience Innovation launched last fall with a class of 16 students studying full-time in Stratford. The inaugural class kicked off with a bootcamp in September that immersed students in digital media technology and provided their first opportunity to create projects. During the year, the students took on additional projects from a variety of industry partners including Open Text, Google, Pine Lake Communications and Big Brothers and Sisters.
The inaugural Global Business and Digital Arts program starts this fall with a double cohort of students. The program’s original target of 60 students was well exceeded by demand, so the program will see nearly 100 students this fall. Students will spend four days on the Waterloo campus and spend Fridays focusing on their digital media courses in Stratford. Buses will be provided to transfer students between campuses and then in third year Global Business and Digital Arts students will take all courses at the Stratford Campus.
In addition to the undergraduate and graduate programs, the Stratford Campus features a Centre of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECR) as a founding node of the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN). CDMN is a research and commercialization network that links digital media incubators and research centres across Canada to accelerate Canada’s digital strategy. Through this collaboration, the Stratford Campus will provide students with opportunities to start companies, commercialize digital media technologies and applications, and to learn first-hand from leading researchers and industry partners working on digital media research.
The uWaterloo Stratford Campus is already known as one of Canada’s leading digital media centres. With its state-of-the-art facilities, industry-driven commercialization program and now both undergraduate and graduate programs, the Stratford Campus will quickly become an environment where students will be making the future.